While the titans of bank loan syndications jostle for share of a nearly $1 trillion market, the syndication function at Huntington Bancshares plays a far more modest role.

With over $25 billion of total assets and operations in 12 states, Columbus, Ohio-based Huntington does not have the scope or size of the global and superregional banks that dominate syndication league tables. But the corporate loan business is still vital to Huntington.

"I am part of the account officer's overall customer relationship plan," said T. Frederic May, vice president in commercial services at Huntington and head of the four-person syndication group there. "They manage the overall relationship and I am there to serve them, essentially sharing their loan structure with other regional banks with a similar philosophy."

Lending activity at Huntington is somewhat weighted toward the bank's retail operations, with consumer loans at $7.9 billion, and commercial loans at $5.3 billion, as of Sept. 30, 1996.

"They're very much known for their consumer banking expertise, but middle-market and small-business banking is an important part of their business mix as well," said Joseph C. Duwan, an analyst with Keefe Bruyette & Woods, New York.

Indeed, Huntington's commercial lending is directed toward middle-market companies that are often privately held and typically too small to have corporate credit ratings. Most of the bank's business loans are between $50 million and $200 million in size, Mr. May said.

Before establishing a dedicated syndications team in 1995, Huntington handled syndications, also known as loan participations, through the loan officer responsible for a given credit.

Though Huntington maintains relationships with syndication desks at about 50 different institutions of varying sizes, it syndicates most loans among a small club of about five regional banks.

Staying close to home lets Huntington syndicate loans smaller than $20 million that most major banks would consider too small to warrant syndication, Mr. May said.

The bank's section 20 securities subsidiary, Huntington Capital Corp., established in 1992, also works closely with the syndications operation. The 30-person securities operation has tier 1 authorization from the Federal Reserve, and provides private placements and some public debt.

The bank has yet to decide if it will apply for tier 2 powers that would enable it to underwrite corporate debt and equity, said C. Forrest Tefft, senior managing director and head of investment banking at Huntington Capital Corp.

Money-center banks and large syndication desks nationwide regularly call on Huntington to offer the bank a role in their deals. But Huntington will usually participate only in loans that provide an opportunity to gain ancillary business in the bank's markets.

Large corporate borrowers "will oftentimes have local needs in our geographical markets that indeed do create opportunities, either commercially or in consumer products for their employees," Mr. May said.

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